Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Fixing A Hole

Under the previous regime, every week was Infrastructure Week, usually announced with fanfare to create a shiny object to distract attention from their newest cock-up.

President Biden has come up with a multi-level plan to actually do it.

President Biden will unveil an infrastructure plan on Wednesday whose $2 trillion price tag would translate into 20,000 miles of rebuilt roads, repairs to the 10 most economically important bridges in the country, the elimination of lead pipes and service lines from the nation’s water supplies and a long list of other projects intended to create millions of jobs in the short run and strengthen American competitiveness in the long run.

Biden administration officials said the proposal, which they detailed in a 25-page briefing paper and which Mr. Biden will discuss in an afternoon speech in Pittsburgh, would also accelerate the fight against climate change by hastening the shift to new, cleaner energy sources, and would help promote racial equity in the economy.

The spending in the plan would take place over eight years, officials said. Unlike the economic stimulus passed under President Barack Obama in 2009, when Mr. Biden was vice president, officials will not in every case prioritize so-called shovel ready projects that could quickly bolster growth.

But even spread over years, the scale of the proposal underscores how fully Mr. Biden has embraced the opportunity to use federal spending to address longstanding social and economic challenges in a way not seen in half a century. Officials said that, if approved, the spending in the plan would end decades of stagnation in federal investment in research and infrastructure — and would return government investment in those areas, as a share of the economy, to its highest levels since the 1960s.

It goes without saying that the Republicans will be opposed to it because of the exploding deficit.  Maybe in the next plan, Mr. Biden should include an investment in short-term memory care since the GOP whooped through all of Trump’s budget-busting tax cuts.

There’s no doubt among anyone that we need this kind of spending on the infrastructure.  Bridges are collapsing, water utilities are dissolving (vide Flint, Michigan), and we are lagging far behind other countries in broadband.  There’s plenty of catnip in it for the progressives — clean energy — and wolfsbane for the right — repealing Trump’s corporate tax hikes.

It’s going to go through a lot of sausage-making by the time it becomes law, and you can be certain that no Republican will vote for it.  But we need it.

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